Prosecutors say Iowa police chief lied to buy machine guns

A small town Iowa police chief has been indicted on federal charges that he abused his position to purchase more than two dozen machine guns.

Adair Police Chief Brad Wendt, 46, and Robert Williams, 46, were both charged with making false statements to the ATF about whether the police department wanted to buy the machine guns. Adair, a town of fewer than 800 people, is located 55 miles (88.51 kilometers) west of Des Moines

“Brad Wendt is charged with exploiting his position as chief of police to unlawfully obtain and sell guns for his own personal profit,” FBI Omaha Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel said in a statement Thursday.

Court documents say Wendt bought 10 machine guns for the police department and later sold several of them at a profit.

Prosecutors say he also acquired 13 other machine guns for his gun store by falsely stating to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives that the police department wanted a demonstration of each of them. Wendt also allegedly helped Williams buy 10 machine guns for his business that holds a federal firearms license by making similar statements.

The two men are also accused of holding public machine gun shooting events where people paid for the chance to shoot one of the fully automatic weapons.

Prosecutors said they believe Wendt and Williams were trying to stockpile the guns to sell later. They say that altogether Wendt tried to purchase or demonstrate 90 machine guns for the Adair Police Department since 2018.

Wendt’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to a message Thursday.

Williams’ attorney, Dean Stowers, said in a statement “It is unfortunate that the government brought these charges against Mr. Williams without sitting down to candidly review all the circumstances and the law.”

Stowers said the ATF approved all of Williams’ gun purchases based on Wendt’s letters, and he hadn’t resold any of them.

Adair City Attorney Clint Fichter said Wendt remains the police chief at this point because the city had no advance notice of the charges before they were announced Thursday.

Wendt could face up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted while Williams faces up to five years in prison.

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